DR. WALLACE: I'm terribly disappointed that you told a girl to "tell" on her brother just because she caught him and a few friends drinking beer at a party. That's really no big deal. Maybe he was just having a sip to find out what beer tasted like. Aren't you aware that teens go through a period of experimenting with a lot of different things?
I've had a few beers myself and decided I didn't like the taste, so I've never tried it again. I think "tattling" is a worse crime than drinking a beer. I think teens learn a lot about situations and themselves by being able to experiment with things when they're with their friends and away from parents. It's really part of growing up — a rite of passage. Do you know what is NOT part of growing up? It's turning on your siblings by turning them in for any little transgression they may commit. If I told on my siblings every time I noticed something questionable they did, I would never have time to study or have a social life myself! So come on now, you must realize that in this day and age, nobody — and I mean nobody — likes or respects an informant. Please reconsider your answer; it's not hip nor in tune with reality. Every teen knows it's never right to tell on a sibling — ever! — Loyal Sibling, via email
LOYAL SIBLING: Would you inform your parents if you knew your brother was experimenting with cocaine? What if he had a loaded gun in his possession? Would you tell your parents? You would be making a huge mistake if you didn't.
Alcohol is highly addictive and has caused an enormous amount of trouble for some drinkers, as well as impacted family and loved ones. There is a law stating that the legal drinking age is 21, and it exists for a very good reason.
I advised the girl to inform her parents about her brother's alcohol consumption because she said she loves him and doesn't want any harm to come to him. I appreciate your passion in defending your position, but I am unmoved on this topic. In this particular case, telling the parents was absolutely the correct thing to do.
HOW TO GET GRANDMA MOVING
DR. WALLACE: My parents are divorced, and both are married to people who don't want me living with them. That's why I live alone with my grandmother (Dad's mother). She is really nice, and I like her very much. My only complaint is that she and her neighbor friend watch television from about 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. every evening.
This started happening about five months ago, when Grandma bought a huge television set after she won $5,000 dollars gambling at a casino. Since I don't like the programs they watch, Grandmother bought me a nice, small set for my bedroom. That's where I spend all my evenings.
I tried to get Grandma to exercise and lose weight because she could be considered a touch — OK, maybe more than a touch — obese. She always says that she enjoys eating and spending time with her friend watching their favorite programs. Is there anything I can do to get her to do something else rather than just be an evening couch potato? She says she doesn't watch television during the day. I'd like to find a way to get her moving around a bit more, as I feel it would be healthier for her to do something — anything — rather than just watch television all night. — Wish I Could Help, Sparks, Nevada
WISH: As Grandmother doesn't watch daytime television, her five hours of evening viewing are actually below the norm for women her age.
It would be better if Grandma watched less television, as many TV watchers are bored with their lives, and TV watching gives them something to do. Do all you can to encourage Grandma (and even her friend) to find an interesting hobby they can enjoy together, such as quilting, reading in a book club or even doing volunteer work in the community. All you can do is make polite suggestions and even invite Grandma out with you sometimes. Maybe you could do a little volunteer work and invite her along to see if she's willing to give it a try? I can confirm that for many elderly adults, watching television can become addictive, making it difficult to turn to other activities. Keep presenting Grandma with opportunities to become more active, and someday, she just may take you up on one of your offers!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.